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Car 54 - - - - A customer unwilling to wait, but not unwilling to leave an insult.

Car 54

Now it's one thing to be called the south end of a north bound horse, or different parts of the human anatomy. But anal? Now that's a new one. And here I thought I had been called every name they could think of… this guy came up with one I've not heard used in the way he did.


In my business I see all kinds of people. I get so many different walks of life in my shop it's hard to tell what insult is going to spew from the bowels of hell this time. This last episode was a Duesie… I'm not sure if this guy was just trying to be politically correct, or the word "anal" was his "word" choice of the day.


It was an average day at the shop, not that busy, but busy enough to keep me on my toes all day. I was in the shop trying to figure out a job while running back and forth from the PC gathering more information. I was definitely in one of those spots where I needed to keep focused and concentrate on the task at hand.


The front door bell was ringing loud and clear as someone came into the lobby. My daughter, Mandy, was in the front office that day helping old dad. She's pretty good at running the front office; she's been around the shop since she was little and knows a thing or two about cars. But, if she has any questions she'll make her way out into the shop and ask her questions to me then relay it back to the customer in the front office.


The story goes that this guy came in with a partially restored 54' pickup and wanted turn signals added to it. When Mandy came to me about it she told me the guy only wanted an estimate and didn't want anything else diagnosed or spend a dime.


Well, that's fine for now, but it's a little hard to tell how much when you say it's a partially restored 54', you need to ask a few questions. Like, does it have turn signals at all, is it the original steering column, are there one or two rear lights, and are there any dash indicators? Stuff like that.


Mandy went back up front to ask the questions while I kept my head under the dash trying to sort out the problem I was currently dealing with. A few minutes later she came back out and filled me in with as much information as she could gather. There were still some unanswered questions I needed to know or his "guesstimate" was going to be really wrong. Since I was stretched out under this dash (pretty much wedged in there), I wasn't about to try to crawl out from under the dash until I got the job done. Which shouldn't be more than 10 or 15 minutes.. tops.


"Tell him to give me a few minutes or so and I'll take a look at what he's got to work with."


Mandy went back up front and told the customer what I said. When I finished up under the dash I came up front, (about 10 minutes) no guy, no car… where'd ya go car 54? Mandy says, "He left all pissed off, called you a horse's ass on the way out too."


An hour or so later the phone rang… Mandy answers it……it's car 54 again…. "Do you know any other repair shops that can do the same kind of work that you do there?" he asked.


Mandy was a little shocked at his question. She had to stop for a minute and think about her answer, she was actually quite ticked that somebody would call and ask that in the first place. "No sir, most repair shops in the area refer work to us when it comes to specialized wiring jobs such as yours," She answered.


"I was referred to you by two different shops; they said you guys are the best in town. I would use you guys but your tech is obviously too "anal" to stop and help me with my problem," He answered.


Tell me this, since when does the ringing of the front door bell mean; "Drop what I'm doing and do what you want… RIGHT NOW!" Hey, how about a little professional courtesy here buddy, I don't think it's fair to say I could get a doctor to stop in the middle of an examination the minute I walk into his office. It wasn't my choice to be stuck under the dash at that moment in time. But that's the way it was. Why should it be any different for automotive repair, but seriously… … anal?? Anal because I want to finish what I'm working on? Anal because I'd rather finish what I'm doing, because it's such a tight spot to be in and it is only going to take a few more minutes to do so?


Really, you mean to tell me that your 54' turn signals are so important that you need an answer right this second and not a few minutes later? Well, then I guess you're right… I'm anal, and I suppose if I was working on this 54 and had to stop in the middle of it to talk to the next impatient customer about their turn signals that would be unacceptable to you too. How's that old saying go: "You're first, right after me…" This guy takes it to extremes.


Here I am, jammed under a dash working on a paying customer's car and all this guy wants is free advice… hmm, let me think about this… what should I do? Work for a living, or work for A living. There's not much chance I'm going to work that hard to get every job in the shop these days. Could be I'm getting older, could be I just don't want to put up with all the BS from people like car 54 anymore. Pretty easy decision, I'll finish the dash job, then, look at Mr. 54's turn signals if he could've waited.


Shortly after this guy came in the shop a buddy of mine who owns an office supply company came to me with a big button badge he made. It has the tail end of a horse proudly printed on it with the words to match. There's no mistaking the meaning of it. I guess that makes me official.


So if you think calling me up and informing me of your opinion is going to affect me in some small way, well… sorry fella… too late, been there, done that, you're not the first. I'm already a member of the club, and I've got the badge to prove it.



Thanks for reading my articles, most eventually will get published in one of my columns across the country. I never know which ones (editors really don't tell me beforehand) But I do get to let them know which ones YOU like. It does help to influence which stories get into next months magazines. Want to help ... leave a comment... let me know which story you would like to see. It really makes a difference.


Thanx again.

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Love the story, Gonzo, and I feel your frustration. Just think about this; technically as a species we are amazing, but socially, we have not improved since we jumped out the trees and left the cave!


Oh, by the way, I think your blood pressure exceeded mine this time....

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From one cave dweller to another... U heapum right, blood pressure high, me thinks should have used big club and thwack the neanderthal when I had em' chance... ugh!


Love the story, Gonzo, and I feel your frustration. Just think about this; technically as a species we are amazing, but socially, we have not improved since we jumped out the trees and left the cave!


Oh, by the way, I think your blood pressure exceeded mine this time....

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Gonzo if you had your head far enough under the dash and the backside high enough up in the air anal might have been a good description. :D What this guy was looking for was a McDonalds drive through auto electric shop.

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You guys made my day... I haven't stopped laughin' yet. And you're right sometimes the resto people can be the worst... but in some cases the best... Each case is different. I'll save judgement when I see the green stuff on the counter. LOL



Thanks guys, you've really, really made my day. For all the frustration and humilation we go thru in a day, it's nice to know we all can laugh about it once in a while. Kudos guys... thanx


The people with old car restoration and old hot rods are the worse customers of all.

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